With the new 870-mile All Wales Coast Path, which joins with the 177-mile Offa’s Dyke Path that runs north to south along the Anglo-Welsh border, “you can walk the shape of the nation for the first time,” says Jane Davidson, president of the Ramblers walking club in Wales.
Five years in the making, the Coast Path, which officially opened on May 5, would take almost three months to walk, but there are plenty of easier hikes.
The Gower Peninsula stretches west from Swansea and is made for weekend walkers, with routes that amble past woodlands, dunes, and grass-fringed cliff tops.
Farther west, the literary-minded can follow the path to Dylan Thomas’s boathouse home and writing shed in Laugharne, with views of his “fishing-boat-bobbing sea.”
Sheer variety is the path’s strength. From discovering castles like Caernarfon to cycling Carmarthenshire’s seafront or walking the tidal breakwater across Cardiff Bay, you’ll end up longing to return. The Welsh call that longing hiraeth, the heartfelt affinity with the land that keeps pulling them home.
This piece, written by Juliana Gilling, appeared in the May 2012 issue of National Geographic Traveler.